The UK Civil Aviation Authority has toughened its line on airline refunds as questions continue to grow.
The aviation watchdog warned airlines they are legally required to provide refunds to customers who had their flights cancelled because of the coronavirus.
Last week the Competition & Markets Authority launched an investigation into refunds across the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, citing airlines and travel agents as particular areas of concern.
Now the CAA has sought to reiterate the law.
“We are reviewing how airlines are handling refunds during the coronavirus pandemic, and will consider if any action should be taken to ensure that consumer rights are protected,” explained a statement.
“Under the law, consumers are entitled to receive a refund for their cancelled flights, despite the challenges the industry is currently facing.”
“We support airlines offering consumers vouchers and rebooking alternatives where it makes sense for the consumer.
“But it is important that consumers are given a clear option to request a cash refund without unnecessary barriers.
“We expect airlines to provide refunds for cancelled flights as soon as practically possible, while appreciating there are operational challenges for airlines in the current circumstances.
“We have published guidance and advice for both industry and consumers, and we continue to engage with airlines on this important issue.
“We do not expect airlines to systematically deny consumers their right to a refund.”
ABTA is among the organisations urging customers to accept vouchers instead of cash, arguing travel agents will go bust if they are forced to follow the law and give money back.
At the same time, Ryanair has stated passengers are entitled to a cash refund, but that it might take until the autumn to receive.